Now that you know what NOT to do, here is what you DO: CALL A PROFESSIONAL!
Likely, if you are here reading this, you understand the severity of a mold problem. You cannot remove mold on your own without proper knowledge. And even with that, I would not attempt such a project. Professionals use equipment that is very expensive for the lay person to rent (if they can even find a place to rent from).
As you browse through your phonebook…wait. That was very 1992 of me to say! As you are browsing the internet, you’ll see a wide range of remediation companies. You’ll also noticed that your local carpet steamer company probably now totes “mold remediation” as one of the things they do.
So how do you choose? What do you ask? We interviewed 3 companies. We narrowed it down to 2 and we chose our guy based on how knowledgeable he sounded. In the end, this was fine and we liked him a lot! But I wish we had gone into it knowing what to ask.
Here’s a list of questions to ask with some advice on their answers:
What do you know about mold?
Nice basic question here, but answers will be so telling! They may tell you about the make up of mold, that it is a fungus, etc. If they don’t know about mold, they certainly don’t belong removing it!
What are the health effects of mold/how will you protect yourself as you remove the mold?
Here they should know that mold can cause damage to cells, cognitive issues, respiratory problems and more. If they tell you that mold can cause running nose, cough and other allergy symptoms in those allergic to it, find yourself another company. If you ask how they will protect themselves during remediation and they give you a blank look or tell you “a face mask,” they are clueless. They need to be protecting themselves from the health risk of removing mold by wearing hazmat suits, eye protection and respirators (NOT a paper face mask).
Can we stay in the house while you do the remediation?
During removal, no one without a hazmat suit should be in the house. If you are lucky enough to have sudden leak, insurance will cover your stay in a hotel. We weren’t so lucky and stayed in our pop up camper/neighbor’s camper in our driveway.
How do you dispose of moldy material?
The material they remove should be double bagged before removing from home. The waste material should never just be laying around bagged or unbagged. Once the double bagged material is removed from home, it should be removed from premises at the end of the workday.
How do you contain the area?
The area MUST be contained! A reputable remediation company will use heavy duty plastic to seal off the area. There should be a second area sealed off when entering the containment area to protect against cross contamination. This bit is vital.
What equipment do you use?
Aside from protective gear and containment materials, a reputable company will use negative air machines and HEPA vacuums. A negative air machine, also known as an air scrubber, removes contaminated air from a containment area using a vacuum effect. These machines are also used in asbestos removal. After mold remediation, HEPA vacuums are used on all surface areas within the containment area. This website answers many questions about negative air machines. Negative Air Machine Here is what an air scrubber looks like:
You are bringing in equipment from other toxic areas, how do you ensure these machines won’t further pollute the area?
All machines need to be covered in NEW plastic between jobs.
Are you spraying any chemicals or killing mold in anyway aside from removing it?
After removal of mold, the exposed wood frame should be sprayed with an anti microbial, such as Benefect or similar agent. After the remediator sprayed Benefect, he painted all exposed wood with Kilz. Removing mold is awesome, preventing is awesome-er.
How do I know that the area is safe after remediation?
The mold remediation company you hire will hire a third party environmental analyst. THIRD PARTY. If they have someone in house they insist on using, don’t hire them. A third party tester’s job is to test the air quality after remediation is complete. Testing MUST be done. It is possible, after a job is complete, for the remediator to miss an area of exposed mold within the containment area. An air quality test helps both you and the remediation team.
Armed with these questions, you’re sure to find a good team to do the job. Yes, you may feel this is an emergency. And in our case, with having opened our walls, it really was. But trust me, it is worth your time and energy to hire the RIGHT team. Bad bad things can happen if you don’t!
Here is an interview with my friend Sandy about a botched remediation job.